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Slane Castle – History & Architecture

LocationSlane, County of Meath, Republic of Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned byHenry ConynghamThe 8th Marquess Conyngham
Official WebsiteSlane Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Weddings, Events and Filming)

The Slane Castle is a historic site located in the town of Slane, within the Boyne Valley of County Meath, Ireland. The castle has been the site of many significant events in Irish history and has been home to the Conyngham family since 1701.

Slane Castle History

Slane Castle
Slane Castle by Catherinecronin is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Slane Castle was built in the early 13th century by Hugh de Lacy, Lord of Meath. Initially intended as a fortified manor house, it was upgraded to a fully functioning castle in 1348.

The castle is perched on a limestone hill above the River Boyne and has commanding views for miles. Indeed, from certain angles, it resembles a crown sitting atop the hill. It has been used as a filming location for many movies and television shows, most notably for the 1984 film Excalibur.

The original moat that surrounded the castle has long since been filled in, but a drawbridge still spans one of the castle’s entrances. The interior of Slane Castle has been largely remodelled over time. However, some original features remain, such as an oriel window in one of the upstairs bedrooms.

Slane Castle Architecture

Slane Castle East Gate
Slane Castle East Gate by Kinsie84 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The castle has an unusual four-sided structure, with four large towers at each corner. The walls are made of local sandstone up to three meters thick. There is a large central courtyard that has been used for military training and tournaments in medieval times. The castle also has an extensive system of secret tunnels and stairways, which were used to help defend it against attackers.

Slane Castle has been extensively restored and renovated over the centuries. It is now open to the public as a tourist attraction. It is also a venue for music concerts, with famous acts such as U2, REM, Oasis and Robbie Williams.

Inside Slane Castle

The castle sits on a 75-metre- high escarpment overlooking the River Boyne. It has four large Manor Houses arranged around a central courtyard, with extensive gardens and parkland extending to 1,100 acres.

The interior of Slane Castle is just as breathtaking as its exterior. The main staircase is a work of art with its double flight of steps and ornate wrought iron balustrade. The grandeur of the drawing room will take your breath away, with its marble fireplace, intricate cornice and beautiful chandelier.

The castle comprises a Keep, which Hugh de Lacy built after 1166, and a Tower House, constructed within the outer bawn in 1485 by Henry VII’s Lord Deputy in Ireland, Sir Edward Poynings.

The main feature of the keep is the great hall, which would have been used for banquets and entertainment. It is three stories high and was originally lit by seven large windows on each side. However, these were later blocked up and replaced with smaller windows during the 18th century. The hall has an arched timber roof supported by cruciform beams. A large fireplace with a stone chimneypiece carved with lions’ heads in the hall’s centre.

Slane Castle
Slane Castle by Bernard Ladenthin is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Slane Castle concerts 

The legendary Slane Concerts began in 1981 when Lord Henry Mount Charles invited Bob Dylan. The concert was a massive success, and Slane quickly established itself as one of Ireland’s most popular outdoor music venues.

Since then, some of the biggest names in music have graced the stage at Slane, including David Bowie, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Oasis, Robbie Williams, Nirvana, Muse and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Over the years, the concerts have become legendary for their party atmosphere, and each has its unique story.

Here are just a few of the most memorable moments from Slane Concerts’ past:

  • In 1985, Madonna made her first appearance in Ireland when she headlined the Slane Concert. Her performance was marred by bad weather, but she still managed to make the show unforgettable.
  • In 1991, Oasis made its debut at Slane as an unsigned band. They went on to conquer the world with hits like “ Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova”.
  • Nirvana made their Irish appearance at Slane in 1992. It was a momentous occasion for fans of the grunge legends. Kurt Cobain even wore an Irish flag onstage.
  • In 2001, Red Hot Chili Peppers returned to Slane after an 11-year absence. Their show was inclusionary, with frontman Anthony Kiedis dedicating songs to U2’s Bono and Larry Mullen Jr.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Slane Castle famous for?

Slane Castle is most famous for its association with rock music. It has been the venue for concerts by some of the biggest names in music, including Bob Dylan, David Bowie, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Oasis.

Who owns Slane castle?

The Conyngham family currently owns the castle and has hosted many notable events.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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